For many businesses, it’s easy to dismiss credit card processing as a small nuisance—something that just needs to be set up, then forgotten. This is a mistake. With dozens of providers, sneaky fees, and binding contracts, small businesses will often make poor choices and end up paying much more as a result.
In order to give new businesses a chance, we set out to pick the three best credit card processing companies on the market, based strictly on the data. We gathered hundreds of data points on over 60 providers, giving each one an overall score (out of 100) based on 18 separate factors. These factors included:
- Contract: how long are you locked in?
- Accepted cards: does the provider work with a wide range of card types?
- Features: does the plan come with features like address verification, real time billing, and an online shopping cart?
- Early cancellation fee: how much will you be penalized for jumping ship early?
- Monthly minimum transaction fee: how much must you pay, minimum, per month?
- Per transaction fee: how high is the fee on each individual purchase?
- Monthly account fee: how much will it cost you to maintain your account?
- Average approval rate: how likely are you to be approved for service?
- Retail discount rate (credit card): what percentage of each credit card transaction goes to the provider?
- Retail discount rate (debit card): what percentage of each debit card transaction goes to the provider?
- Retail transaction fee (credit card): what is the flat fee you must pay for each credit card purchase?
- Retail transaction fee (debit card): what is the flat fee you must pay for each debit card purchase?
- Online discount rate: what percentage of each online purchase will the provider charge?
- Gateway transaction fee: what flat rate does the provider charge for online purchases?
- Monthly gateway fee: how high is the monthly fee for online payment processing?
- Set-up fee: how high is the initial fee for getting the processing system set-up?
- Account set-up time: how long does it take to get everything set-up?
- Online application: does the provider offer an online application, and how easy is it to complete?